Three Americans Arrests in Foiled Coup Attempt in Congo

A coup attempt in Kinshasa was reportedly foiled, and many foreigners were arrested last Sunday, according to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) military.

The attempt involved around fifty individuals, according to DRC Army spokesperson Gen. Sylavin Ekenge.

Christian Malanga, a naturalized American, was allegedly the coup leader.  He and three others were killed in the coup, according to Ekenge. A British citizen and three Americans were among the other coup participants who were apprehended.

The coup in Kinshasa targeted President Felix Tshisekedi’s residence and Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe’s home, killing two guards in a firefight. Kamerhe is a candidate for National Assembly president.

Witnesses reported that the coup participants wore the flag of Zaire, the country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when they attacked the Palais de la Nation, the presidential residence. Zaire was the name of the country until 1997, when dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was overthrown.

Tshisekedi was re-elected to a second term in December 2023. The electoral commission denied the Congolese opposition’s requests for a repeat despite its claims that both elections were corrupt.  Tshisekedi still has trouble forming a government.

While growing up, Malanga became an American citizen and made many trips back to the DRC. After running for parliament in 2011, he was imprisoned by then-President Kabila. He eventually rose to become a captain within the DRC army.

He established his New Zaire government-in-exile, the United Congolese Party (UCP), after his release. In addition to his work with non-profits, Malanga was engaged in commercial endeavors in the DRC and the US. 

Last Sunday, Malanga posted a video to his YouTube channel showing what seems to be him and his soldiers taking over the Palais de la Nation and carrying the flags of Zaire.

Minutes later, the security forces showed up, executed Malanga, and arrested his companions. The conflict resulted in several casualties when a shell detonated nearby.

A video was shared the following day by the DRC Communications Ministry, showing the captives encircled by armed guards. They are seen wearing camo clothing and Zaire flags draped over their shoulders. Two of the inmates looked to be Caucasian males. They had facial injuries and blood stains.

One of the captives said that Malanga claimed he had the backing of the Americans. However, they realized that he didn’t.